4 key strategies for using social listening to build audience segments
by Hephzibah Dutt on February 28, 2023
Audience segmentation is one of the most impactful strategies available to an agency or business. It allows a brand to optimize its marketing efforts, improve customer satisfaction and maximize customer value.
But in order to harness all the benefits of audience segmentation, you need to build strong audience segments that are relevant to you or your client’s business. To do so, you need accurate insights and actionable targeting strategies.
That’s where social listening comes in. An effective social listening strategy provides you with the data you need to quickly identify relevant audience segments and target your messaging accordingly. The resulting insights can help you more effectively communicate with your ideal client base.
Why use social listening for audience segmentation?
Social listening platforms are extremely useful tools for audience segmentation.
Social listening tools process data from billions of user conversations across many channels and online sources and convert them into usable metrics. Together, these capabilities can save you countless hours of collecting and manually processing the kind of granular data you need to build reliable audience segments.
Social listening tools draw data from various social media and online conversations where people discuss and share opinions organically. Because of this, your audience segment insights are based on how your consumers talk about themselves and their interests in an unbiased, unfiltered manner. Furthermore, a social listening solution like an Infegy Atlas provides you with Source Bio data – publicly shared information from authors’ profiles – so you have ready-to-use metrics about how people identify themselves.
You can learn more about how social listening tools work and how you can use them for brand and business wins here.
In this article, we provide an overview of audience segmentation, why it’s important and four key social listening strategies to help you execute an effective segmentation strategy.
Let’s get started.
What is audience segmentation?
Audience segmentation is the process of grouping people based on shared characteristics. Once you have identified a segment, you can create custom campaigns and messaging to boost your brand’s targeting effectiveness.
There are countless ways to segment an audience. Here are a few examples.
- Gender segmentation – Different products, services or topics may be discussed more by one gender than another. For example, there is significant gender bias in conversations regarding the National Football League (NFL), as 79% of people discussing the NFL are men. Men are also more likely to mention specific players, while women’s NFL-related conversations (when they occur) tend to be about other, non-game related topics.
- Relationship segmentation – Properly targeting your audience may be more complex than marketing to the end consumer. For example, a jewelry store may assume its target audience is women since most of its jewelry is designed for women. However, the brand may discover that a large segment of its customers are male significant others who are considering a purchase for the important women in their lives. This insight into the relationship between purchasers and end users can drastically alter the brand’s marketing strategy.
- Purchasing behavior segmentation – A discount retailer will likely target a different audience than that luxury brand, which makes past purchasing behavior an important factor to consider.
- Psychographic segmentation – Psychographic segmentation groups audience members based on how they think and feel, how they buy, and their emotions, interests and hobbies.
Why is audience segmentation important?
If you’re a marketer, the question is probably more specific: how can audience segmentation enhance inbound marketing efforts? The answer is the same either way.
Audience segmentation allows you to market your brand’s products or services in a more personalized manner. When driven by insights into consumer behavior and preferences, audience segmentation can help you:
- Uncover new opportunities
- Develop customer-first strategies that resonate
- Understand what your target audience cares about
- Quickly identify and act on new trends
- Attract and retain the right customers
- Build customer loyalty
Put simply, audience segmentation provides you with a competitive advantage because it helps you target your messaging and offer the products and services your customers are seeking. This includes capturing data your R&D teams need to develop new products that consumers want.
4 key strategies for audience segmentation
Strategy #1 – Begin with demographics.
One of the simplest ways to build audience segments is by considering demographic data such as age, gender, and household income. Let’s look at the demographics of people discussing refrigerators online.
Gender distribution of people discussing refrigerators
Figure 1: Gender distribution of the conversation around refrigerators, with top topics; Infegy Atlas data.
As shown in Figure 1, women are slightly more likely than men to discuss refrigerators (57% vs. 43%).
Note that women and men discuss different topics related to refrigerators. Women are more likely to talk about cooking ingredients and recipes, while men’s conversations are more frequently about beer, meat and mini fridges.
This insight into, not only who is discussing your brand, but also the different topics discussed by various demographic groups can help your brand better communicate with your target audience.
Age distribution of people discussing refrigerators
Figure 2: Age distribution of people discussing refrigerators.
Looking at the age distribution of the audience discussing refrigerators, we can observe an uptrend in refrigerator discussions among 25- to 34-year-olds (Figure 2). This is likely due to the fact that people in this age group tend to be establishing households and making home-related purchases.
Income demographics example
Figure 3: Average household income of the people discussing refrigerators; Infegy Atlas data.
Social listening also offers insight into a group’s overall income in relation to the general population. For example, the above data shows us that those discussing refrigerators have more overall income, more disposable income, higher home values and more education than the average consumer.
Strategy #2 – Learn what consumers say about themselves.
Social media biography sections provide powerful insight into how consumers describe themselves and how those descriptions relate to their demographic information. As we shared above, information like Infegy Atlas’ Source Bio data will unlock this vital information! Use it to discover the insights you need to enhance ideal client personas and targeting strategies.
Consider the example of people who post about cycling/biking. We’re going to learn all we can about the audience segments within the larger group of people discussing cycling, based on a few analyses of how they identify themselves and their interests.
Linguistic analysis example
Figure 4: Linguistic analysis of Source Bios of people who discuss cycling - bicycling- Topics word cloud; Infegy Atlas data.
This linguistic analysis of the Source Bio data of people discussing bicycling indicates that cycling/biking enthusiasts show additional interests related to art and music, politics/community building, and nature and travel (Figure 4).
Interest analysis example
Figure 5: Top interests and associated sentiment; Infegy Atlas data.
We can get even more granular data by looking at the interests of the people discussing cycling (Figure 5). We find that, compared to the general population, people who post about cycling are 12 times more likely to talk about adventure travel, 13 times more likely to talk about road trips, and 5.2 times more likely to talk about the environment/nature.
Infegy Narratives – topic clustering
Figure 6: Infegy Narratives’ force-graph of the conversation; Infegy Atlas data.
One of the most innovative capabilities of the Infegy Atlas platform is its Narratives function. Narratives can quickly cluster and categorize millions of social posts and news articles into easily digestible categories, jump-starting your search for relevant insights.
Using the Narratives function, we conducted an analysis of cyclists’ conversations (Figure 6). Top categories in the larger conversation are biking as an alternative mode of transportation, road trips and motorcycling, and various community topics.
As you can see, Narratives offers a big picture view of the entire conversation. You can also click into any cluster for additional information. You can get as granular as you’d like, right down to viewing individual social media posts.
Strategy #3 – Consider multiple channels in your analysis.
A common social listening mistake is assuming your target audience is on a single social media channel. You can gain valuable insight by monitoring multiple channels, even those that don’t typically host your target audience.
Related: Learn the importance of a diverse social media dataset. Read “How to avoid a one-size-fits-all dataset to get the consumer insights you need.”
The online conversation around Dollar Tree offers a great example of the importance of monitoring multiple channels (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Channel distribution of the conversation around Dollar Tree.
As you can see, the vast majority (84%) of people who communicate about Dollar Tree on social media do so on Pinterest. However, by monitoring multiple channels, we are able to observe a large spike in Twitter conversations in late 2021, which coincides with the retailer’s announcement that it would be raising prices from $1 to $1.25.
Had we initiated single-channel social listening around the time of the price increase, we may have incorrectly assumed that Twitter was the dominant channel on which to find Dollar Tree audiences.
However, a subsequent rebound in Pinterest conversations shows that the Twitter spike was reactive and that Dollar Tree’s target audience eventually returned to Pinterest to continue its discussion of low-cost crafting supplies. Monitoring multiple channels at the time of the Twitter spike, kept us from missing out on the retailer’s typical target audience.
At the very least, audiences on different channels represent different customer segments, which in itself is valuable insight.
Strategy #4 – Combine demographics and interests to identify niche audience segments.
A great way to optimize your brand’s marketing strategy is by catering to niche market segments. These niche segments can be identified by combining demographics and interests, giving you a leg up on the competition.
For example, The Wall Street Journalem> recently reported that an increasing number of adults are purchasing Lego kits as investments. We wondered if this was, in fact, a growing trend and set out to learn more about this potential niche market.
Using the social listening capabilities of Infegy Atlas, we examined the conversation surrounding Lego, filtering the audiences who also discussed investing.
Lego investors by age and gender
Figure 8: Age distribution of the conversation around Lego, filtered to posters who discuss investing; Infegy Atlas data.
We found that the typical Lego investors in this conversation are 25- to 55-year-olds, with 35- to 45-year-olds the most likely to discuss both topics. Looking at demographics in the conversation, we saw that 79% of people posting were males (Figure 9).
Figure 9: Gender demographics of the conversation; Infegy Atlas data.
Audience interests analysis example
Figure 10: Top topics in the conversation; Infegy Atlas data.
Infegy Atlas also helped us identify other common interests in this niche market, including gaming, Star Wars, holiday giving, and various types of investment products (Figure 10).
We also found that Lego investors were 15.1 times more likely than the general population to discuss model toys, 9.1 times more likely to discuss children’s games and toys, and 8.4% more likely to discuss adventure video games (Figure 11).
Figure 11: Linguistics analysis - top Interests; Infegy Atlas data.
Based on the social listening data gathered by Infegy Atlas, we confirmed that there is, in fact, a Lego investor niche market. This audience segment within the general market for Lego are males who fall in the 25-45 year age category and have interests in investing, model toys, games, and adventure video games.
Data that allows you to create a robust profile of even niche audience segments will equip you to effectively target these consumers.
Now, more than ever, brands have access to a wide range of valuable consumer insights. Potential customers are declaring exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it delivered. All we need to do is listen and respond.
Implementing audience segmentation strategies can be an effective way to build consumer profiles and target your messaging to your specific audience. The first step is gaining access to the data you need.
Fortunately, Infegy Atlas makes it easy to scour billions of posts and trillions of data points to dig deep into social media audiences interests and behavior.
To learn more about how our social listening insights can help with audience segmentation (and so much more!), request a custom demo today!
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